The Top 6 Breakup Lies

idiot_teeT-shirt from CafePress

Yesterday we covered the top 5 breakup cliches of all time (e.g. “It’s not you, it’s me). Breakup lies are obvious untruths lazily uttered by often well-meaning dumpers. While some clichéd breakups may become big fat lies down the road (especially when “I think we’re just meant to be great friends” is followed by a decade of radio silence, or an ex gets engaged three months after announcing “I’m not ready for a relationship right now”), a true big fat lie is more immediately discerned as bullshit than a cliché, which, no matter how tired, can still have some truth to it. The top six big fat lyin’ breakup lines of all time are:

  1. “I really need to focus on my career right now.” Riiiiight. Even a recent leader of the free world had time for a wife and multiple mistresses—Bill even found time to buy Monica a freakin’ souvenir sweatshirt, ferchrissakes! Nobody’s career is so important or all-consuming that they couldn’t take five for the right person.
  2. Overcompensations like “You’re too good for me”/”You deserve better”/”You’re really great, I’m just an idiot.” Does anyone ever really believe these lines? We’d like to meet just one person who is so goddamn selfless that they’d give up a perfectly good relationship just so that their ex could go on and find someone better looking/better paid/better hung. Unless you’re having a morning-after brunch with Mother Teresa, this line is strictly verboten. Besides, it’s the sole responsibility of the best friend to deliver this line of crap to the dumpee.
  3. “We met at the wrong time.” Whenever we hear this line, we’re reminded of that T-shirt slogan that goes, “How about never, is never good for you?”
  4. “I wish it could have worked out between us.” Really? Well then why don’t you rub the freakin’ lamp and summon the Relationships Genie? Or better yet, get off your ass and try to make it work, you lazy fuck.
  5. “My parents don’t approve of this relationship.” Unless you’re ten years old and on the right side of the tracks, or living in a country where they behead you for dating the wrong person, then this line will not hold up in our court of love. Sure, parents have been known to disapprove of their offspring’s dating decisions in countries where beheading is frowned upon, but this is rarely the whole story. More like, “My parents would rather I dated within the Ivy League and I would rather date someone with bigger boobs.”
  6. “My friends are really important to me, and that’s where I want to spend my time right now.” In other words, “My friends are out getting drunk and laid every night and I’d like to be doing the same thing.”

While you might think telling the sorts of lies outlined above to someone you’re dumping is mercifully innocuous, it’s not. Try condescending and a tiny bit cruel. At least if you dish out one of the top-five clichés we covered yesterday, then your dumpee will be able to commiserate with friends who will be all like, “Been there, heard that, felt your pain.” But if you dish out a lie, then those friends will be all like, “Sure, sure, that makes sense—this is a really busy time of the year for pizza deliverers” (while avoiding eye contact), and your ex will feel like shit.

For more on breakups, please see our guide to dumping and being dumped, “Buh Bye.”


  1. I have used the line of “i just don’t feel like i’m good enough for you” to reject someone. But the problem i have with this is, i meant it… Like i’d rather her find the one who she can wake up to everyday, than to be with someone as lazy, boring, and snarky as me, she said she loved those traits about me, but i just know she can find a real man who can keep her happy and protected better than i can. I love this girl, but i can’t stand the thought of her being hurt by me. Me and this girl are still friends, and i still love her, and from how she acts it feels like she does too, but i still just don’t feel good enough

    1. Sounds like someone needs an injection of self esteem. If you don’t feel good enough William, why don’t you make yourself good enough? Prove to her – and more importantly, to yourself – that you can be motivated as opposed to lazy and interesting as opposed to boring. (We happen to think snark can be charming when delivered in the right style and in the right dosage, so maybe hold onto that.) Don’t wallow in self pity, get off the couch and become the person you think she deserves! It sounds like she already likes you, so you can’t really hurt her unless you do something really stupid (like cheat or forget her birthday) — but those are of course avoidable scenarios if you use a little discipline and intention. Bill, darling, you are a real man already. Just put in a tiny bit more effort to take better advantage of your short time on this planet and become a BETTER man. xo

  2. Personally, I think that the ”You’re really great, I’m just an idiot.” line is almost always very true.

  3. 8. “You’re cutting into my checkbook too much”… even though the only thing I’ve ever bought for you in 4 years was a 12 pack of beer for Christmas…how’s that for a good breakup lie? I thought it was rather interesting when I heard it…

  4. 7. “An ex who I have a lot of history with is coming back into my life, and I need to sort out my feelings.”

    Either there isn’t even any ex, or the dumper knew damn well that the ex would come back into the picture beforehand. This lie is awesome though, if used early enough. You can’t use this one after, like, two years.

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